Does deep-frying your veggies really make them better for you?

Imagine a world where fried chicken and French fries were good for you. What a beautiful world that would be, right? Well, although heading to your nearest KFC isn’t exactly the healthiest thing to do, there is one thing that may be better for you fried than raw: Vegetables. Before you toss your salad in the deep-fryer, here’s what you need to know.

According to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Granada in Spain, frying your veggies in extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) changes them for the better by increasing the number of phenolic compounds. These compounds that are produced by plants and serve as a protection against pests while adding color and/or flavor to the plant; they are within many of the foods we eat and have antioxidant properties when consumed by humans that can fight off diseases.

Plants have these phenolic compounds already, but researchers wanted to know what effect different methods of cooking had on the compounds. They cooked potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and pumpkin using four different methods: boiling in water, boiling in a water-and-oil mixture, sautéing, and deep-frying. For the latter two, the phenolic compound levels increased compared to the levels when raw — not so with boiling.

The increased phenolic compounds come from the EVOO, which transfers its phenolic compounds during the cooking process. That’s right — eating your veggies fried with EVOO will fight off disease, because the world is a wonderful place.

It’s important to note that sautéing and deep-frying still increased fat levels, naturally. “We can conclude that frying in EVOO was the technique with the highest associated increases of phenols and can therefore be considered an improvement in the cooking process, although it also increases the calorie density of the food because of the amount of oil absorbed,” said Cristina Samaniego Sánchez, one of the authors of the study, in a press release.

However, if you’re going to be making soup, don’t replace the water with oil, she noted: “Boiling is recommended if the vegetables are to be consumed together with the cooking medium (i.e. the water).”

There you have it, folks. Just goes to show that fat isn’t the only important thing to take into consideration when you’re considering your health. OK, now BRB, frying ALL the veggies.

(Image via ShutterStock.)

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